From the Archives: Eperor Hadrian’s Moderate policies

I received the letter written to me by your predecessor, the most illustrious Serenius Granianus, and it is not my pleasure to pass by without enquiry the matter referred to me, lest the inoffensive should be disturbed, while slanderous informers are afforded an opportunity of practicing their vile trade.

Now, if our subjects of the provinces are able to sustain by evidence their charges against the Christians, so as to answer before a court of justice, I have no objection to their taking this course. But I do not allow them to have recourse to mere clamorous demands and outcries to this end. For it is much more equitable, if anyone wishes to accuse them, for you to take cognizance of the matters laid to their charge.

If therefore any one accuses and proves that the aforesaid men do anything contrary to the laws, you will pass sentences corresponding to their offenses. On the other hand, I emphatically insist on this, that if anyone demand a writ of summons against any of these Christians, merely as a slanderous accusation, you proceed against that man with heavier penalties, in proportion to the gravity of his offense.

By Emperor Hadrian

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #27 in 1990]

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